RB Willis McGahee, Free agent
HT: 6-0, WT: 228, Born: 10-20-1981, College: Miami, Drafted: Round 1, Pick 23
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2013 Game Summaries
Week 3 - On six of Willis McGahee's eight runs, Vikings defenders met him at the line or in the backfield. The Browns offensive line did not generate much push for McGahee, giving him little room to display his downhill running style. McGahee received running room twice, recording runs of three and nine yards. McGahee was not involved in the passing game, and did allow a sack late in the third quarter. Overall, McGahee was a non-factor. One should expect him to improve statistically as he grows more comfortable with the Browns run scheme, however, not much should be expected from the 31-year-old if the lack of run blocking continues.
Week 4 - Willis McGahee seems much comfortable with the Browns offense this week, and he seems to have come on as the Browns' primary ball carrier through two games. McGahee does not have much left in the tank, but he is easily the most physical of any of the Browns' running backs. McGahee looked similar to last week (8 carries, 9 yards) up until the Browns' touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. On that drive, McGahee looked physical and continually gained extra yards after hitting holds hard. His effectiveness on that drive set up Brian Hoyer's second touchdown on the goal line. The outside linebacker bit on a play action to McGahee on the goal line, leaving fullback Chris Ogbonnaya open in the end zone for six points. Willis McGahee received a goal-line carry in the first quarter; however, the left side of the line blew up as McGahee met Bengals defensive linemen 2-3 yards in the backfield. When the Browns need tough yards, it looks like they will be calling Willis McGahee's name. However, the days of Willis McGahee dominating the carries in a backfield seem to be long gone.
Week 5 - The common observer would look at Willis McGahee's performance on Thursday and label him as slow and inefficient. While many times that may be true, McGahee was subject to externalities that affected his efficiency. McGahee received 26 carries due to an injury to Chris Ogbonnaya in the second quarter. A typical observable trend is that as usage increases, efficiency decreases. When a team gives a recently 31-year old running back 26 carries, one should not expect efficiency. While McGahee lacks any semblance of burst or speed in the hole, Willis does a great job finding holes and lanes when receiving the ball out of a single-back formation. McGahee has a nose for running lanes and excels when he can get ýdownhillţ, or in other words get through a running lane and use his physicality to gain yards after contact. McGahee's best run of the game came in the second quarter when he was able to find a running lane, hit the hole and get into the second level for 11 yards. Most other running backs would be able to beat the safety and speed into the end zone, but he doesn't have that left in his 31-year old legs. One reason that McGahee may have struggles with efficiency is because the Browns offensive line does not put McGahee in a good situation for success, as described above. For now, McGahee has established himself as the workhorse of the Cleveland Browns backfield. Effectiveness from McGahee cannot be a weekly expectation, but as long as he can receive 20-plus touches consistently (hardly a given), McGahee will continue to post solid yardage and touchdown totals.
Week 6 - Willis McGahee ran with authority against an otherwise stout Lions run defense on Sunday. As always, McGahee followed blockers well and pushed piles and drove defenders forward for extra yards consistently. On the Browns first drive, McGahee made a decisive cut up field on a zone read and bullied his way for 12 yards. Despite McGahee's effectiveness in the first half (8 carries, 33 yards, 3 first downs), Rob Chudzinski abandoned the run game in the second half. The Browns' running backs amassed only two carries in the second half, both Willis McGahee carries in the third quarter. This is something that Chudzinski also did in Carolina, and this is the third time in six games where the Browns have forgotten about the run game during a close game. The short-sightedness of the coaching staff was absolutely mind-boggling, and the lack of a running game killed the Browns in the second half. Overall, McGahee was well on his way to a solid performance before the Browns coaching staff mismanaged the game and put an end to the ground game.
Week 7 - Willis McGahee found holes well on Sunday, however, even when there was a huge running lane on the first play of the game, McGahee did not highlight the agility necessary to cut into the lane and burst into the second level. McGahee's lack of burst is especially devastating to the offense because the Browns' linemen are not very mobile in their run blocking. The only time that McGahee can pull off a significant run is when he can hit lanes while running downhill, with no change of direction needed. McGahee displayed this style of running more as the game progressed, with runs of eight and six yards in the fourth quarter. Regarding pass blocking, Willis looked overwhelmed at times. Overall, the Packers blitzed heavily, and the Browns pass protection looked muddied. In general, the opportunity for touches and scoring opportunities was not there for McGahee on Sunday, as the Browns trailed for almost the entire game. Willis McGahee is strictly a volume runner and failed to show anything more than slightly above replacement level talent on Sunday.
Week 8 - With the Browns trailing for most of the game while facing one of the best defenses in the NFL, Willis McGahee's effectiveness was kept to a bare minimum on Sunday. The Browns offensive line struggled with the speed of the Kansas City linebackers, especially Derrick Johnson. The Chiefs feature one of the most dominant linebacking cores in the NFL, and that negatively affected McGahee's chance for success on Sunday. When given the ball in short yardage situations, McGahee shines. On two different occasions, McGahee bullied through a pile for a crucial first down. His best run was for 14 yards where he ran downhill and defense had to stay honest because of the improved second half passing game. When McGahee gets a head of steam, he can be a load to bring down and will consistently gain yard after contact. However, McGahee is not worth anything on an outside run or pitch, yet the Browns still try a McGahee toss at least once a game. With the Browns not reaching the red zone with consistency, McGahee will be relegated to ineffective stats between the 20s on a weekly basis.
Week 9 - Willis McGahee looked washed up on Sunday. On numerous occasions, McGahee was given a running lane yet simply could not burst through it. Whenever McGahee receives the ball near the goal line, he runs straight into the line and gains little leverage or push on his way to a negligible gain. To compound that ineptitude, McGahee fumbled during the second quarter, which absolutely wiped away any positive gains that McGahee had made up to that point. At this point in his career, McGahee looks like a poor man's Michael Turner ˝ providing nothing that the Browns could not get out of most any other available running back in the league.
Week 11 - It seems like the Browns have decided to end the nauseating two month long Willis McGahee era in Cleveland. The Browns replaced McGahee after the first drive in the third quarter. McGahee had been ineffective up to that point, despite solid run blocking from the Browns offensive line. McGahee lacked explosion to a degree where safeties and linebackers would come all the way around the offensive line to make a tackle.
Week 12 - Willis McGahee toted the ball only four times on Sunday. McGahee is a non-factor in the Browns offense and will likely face retirement after this season. At this point, McGahee is nothing more than the Browns short yardage running back.
Week 13 - Willis McGahee showed the first signs of life that Browns fans have seen this season, putting forth his most successful game of the season. For what seems like the first time, Willis McGahee made it into the secondary on a carry. For being the pile of molasses that he is, McGahee still possesses powerful legs that churn forward and consistently gain yards after contact. This comes in handy near the goal line, where McGahee took his first carry of the game in for a one-yard touchdown. Another thing that McGahee does very well is recognizes his own weaknesses. McGahee usually cuts inside rather than outside when confronted with a defender, knowing that it is a losing battle if he tries to take the ball to the edge. In addition, McGahee recognizes his lack of speed and because of that, he hit holes hard ˝ wasting no time in gaining yards. Both of these qualities are redeeming factors in McGahee's game, and it is probably what is keeping him in the league.
Week 14 - McGahee operated as the bellcow, but found little running room on his 14 carries. The Patriots run defense looked better than it had all season, although McGahee did them favors, as it's clear he's not as elusive or quick as many other NFL running backs. The run game also took a back seat to the passing game for much of the day. McGahee was knocked out of the game with an injury with a few minutes to go in the fourth quarter, a situation that bears monitoring down the stretch.